Panther Racing, Hildebrand Join IndyCar in Return to New Hampshire
National Guard Panther Racing Team Finished Runner-Up in Only Previous Start on the One-Mile Oval
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 10, 2011) – Panther Racing and driver JR Hildebrand will join the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series as open-wheel racing makes its return to the greater northeast and the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for this weekend’s MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225. Hildebrand is the current leader in the IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year standings and ranks in the 10th position in the overall series championship.
Panther has just one previous start on the one-mile oval, a runner-up finish with former driver Scott Goodyear in 1998, and Goodyear led 44 laps during that race. Hildebrand finished fourth at Iowa Speedway in his last oval start and had his career-best finish of second place at this year’s running of the Indianapolis 500. In 12 starts this season, Hildebrand has recorded two Top Five and four Top Ten finishes, which has helped earn him a 37-point advantage in the Rookie of the Year standings over James Hinchcliffe. Hildebrand is in eighth position in the IZOD IndyCar Series oval championship point standings.
Last weekend, Panther was having its best non-oval race weekend of the year before Hildebrand had contact with EJ Viso and Helio Castroneves in the early stages of the race while running in the Top Ten. JR had qualified 13th for the race, his best career effort on a road or street course. In the team’s last oval start, Hildebrand qualified on the second row in fourth position, his career best starting position in 14 IndyCar Series starts.
The MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225, which will be broadcast Sunday at 3:30 pm (EST) on ABC, with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 and Sirius channel 212.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda: “We couldn’t be more excited to be coming back to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it’s a beautiful area and the track poses a lot of unique challenges. There is a lot of open-wheel history in Louden and there are a lot of us that are excited about coming back up here. The track is a challenge somewhat like the Milwaukee Mile, and creates a high risk/reward scenario based upon if you want to be comfortable or if you want to be fast, and I know we do everything we can to stay on the fast side of that equation. To be able to get our lap times where we want we’re going to have to get down to business right away and get rolling in a hurry. This is as stacked as the IZOD IndyCar Series has been, from both a team and driver level, and we’re looking forward to hitting the racetrack this weekend.”